Healthcare sector needs a robust Cybersecurity plan

With a view to address issues related to safety of Medical devices, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced plans to propose new frameworks to protect consumers and enhance medical device cybersecurity. It has released the Medical Device Safety Action Plan: Protecting Patients, Promoting Public Health that outlines how the agency can work towards enhancing processes to ensure safety of Medical devices. Safety of Healthcare applications and devices is a growing concern for the industry, especially, with rapid digital transformation for better and personalized consumer experience. While rules and regulations get framed and implemented, how can the healthcare sector independently devise a robust Cybersecurity strategy?

The core objective and eternal plan of the healthcare sector is to help extend the services to every needy consumer and personalize the offerings as much as possible. Likewise, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. in his statement mentioned, “Our aim is to make sure that the new advances in technology that are enabling better capabilities and benefits are also harnessed to bring added assurances of safety, so that more patients can benefit from new devices and address unmet needs.” Safety and security of data and systems is critical, as any major breach can result in life endangering situations as well.

How scary is the Cybersecurity nightmare for the Healthcare players?

The Healthcare sector will continue to face security threats and data breach attacks.  These attacks will be predominantly on the basic infrastructure, which can compromise consumer data and life-critical information. For instance, the WannaCrya Ransomware attack last year almost damaged the U. K. National Health Service. Not just data breach, even inaccessibility to patient data and records can be disastrous for the healthcare operators.

Moreover, it is interesting to know that hackers are now waging an attack against EHR vendors, resulting in direct impact on the providers. This not only results in a breach, but also threatens functioning of many organizations at a time. For instance, extended downtime and no access to patient records can impact the revenue, health of the patient, and reputation of the healthcare system. There have been instances where the service provider was unable to access its patient data for almost a week.

Ransomware, insider threats, and external hacks are some of the persistent threats that the healthcare sector is bound to face. Amongst all these threats, insider threats are extremely threatening, where users are potentially responsible for significant losses to the organization. It is a major vulnerability in terms of healthcare security, where human errors within the organization can cause a major breach and losses.

Today, sensitive devices connected to the heart or the brain can be controlled digitally and remotely. What if a key to a device controlling the functioning of an organ is leaked, resulting in manipulation of the device? It can almost result in death caused due to some malicious intentions. This might sound like a scene pulled out from a Television thriller series, but considering the digital revolution happening today, this could hold true. Hence, it is important that healthcare solution providers must develop robust data security options to avoid such attacks against individuals.

It has been estimated by research bodies that an average healthcare data breach costs $380 per record. In fact, losses incurred from breach of data in financial services is less than the losses happening in the healthcare segment. Data breach can occur due to many reasons – from poorly maintained secured systems, machines, or inefficient data management practices. There are multiple reasons, but the outcome can have an everlasting impact on the organization.

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Key components of your Security Testing strategy

Security Testing works on a defensive mode, where organizations need to look at how they can safeguard their systems against an attack, and even build an effective bounce back strategy to get ready for any situation. Let’s look at some key aspects in Security Testing specifically for the Healthcare sector.

  • Safeguarding Healthcare information

The initial step in Security Testing is to check for vulnerabilities and identify potential risks for protected health information (PHI). Securing PHI further helps organizations to confirm that the application meets HIPAA Compliance. Strategic security testing can help organizations to safeguard sensitive healthcare information. Vulnerability Assessment forms a key component of the Security Testing strategy.

  • Effective Data Management

It’s not just about safeguarding data, Security Testing also helps to ensure that your data storage and data management techniques are good enough. Effective Data Management techniques can go a long way to ensure Data protection and bring down the Cybersecurity risks. Additionally, Security Testing helps you to analyze your security solution for data protection and management.

  • Ensuring safe Data Transmission

Healthcare applications and Medical devices support rigorous data exchange that happens via emails, remote servers, Cloud, or devices. This data has to be protected or encrypted so that it is not compromised at any point during transmission. Effective Security Testing and Network security testing strategy can help organizations to protect the data from getting leaked during transmission. It will save the data from any unauthorized access, which is very much possible in a digital scenario.

  • Managing Access to Data and systems

Gaps in security happen mainly when the access points are not defined, which makes the systems and applications highly vulnerable. Security Testing is needed to improve validation of identity, which helps to bring down the cybersecurity risks to a great extent. Healthcare institutes such as hospitals are expected to secure patient data and other key information points, which is possible with rigorous validation of access points and identification.

  • Check for software quality

Security Testing helps in ensuring the quality of the application before it is released by checking vulnerabilities and risks. It has the ability to diagnose bugs in the initial phases, which brings down the efforts and costs as well. This further helps in reducing time-to-market and enables teams to release the application confidently. Moreover, Security Testing is needed to attain HIPAA compliance, which is a stamp of approval for an application.

Due to the growing need to adopt new technologies for delivering improved consumer experience, healthcare solution providers are facing challenges in the Cybersecurity space. These challenges will only intensify as we move ahead and innovate. Security Testing and Digital Assurance will help enterprises to bring down the risks and create an effective bounce back plan for securing sensitive information. What you need, is a relevant strategy for your business.

Cigniti has a dedicated Security Testing Center of Excellence (TCoE) that has developed methodologies, processes, templates, checklists, and guidelines for web applications, software products, networks, and cloud. Connect with us to build the right security testing strategy for your organization.

Cigniti Technologies is a global leader in Independent Software Testing Services with offices in US, UK, India, Australia, and Canada.